Monday, August 17, 2015

Amish Life and the Wyeth Family

We stayed at Roamers Retreat in Kinzer, PA, a campground that is surrounded by Amish farms. Being in Lancaster county I had to take Bird-in-Hand as I passed through Paradise on my way to Intercourse.  No it's not what you think, these are all small Amish communities that seem to have become must see stops for thousands of tourist.  There are a few Amish businesses in these town but there are also many more "English" stores selling the same Chinese junk we find at tourist traps all over the country.  If you get off the main roads you do see a lot of Amish farms and small businesses. 
The main means of transportation is still the horse drawn buggy so as you can see the berms are well fertilized.  They really are taking their lives in their hands when they travel on busy Route 30.
While the Amish follow cultural practices of the 1800's and have no electricity in their homes you see these Amish phone booths in many places.  This one is by a small school were the kids attend through eighth grade.  More modern technology does seem to be creeping into the culture.  We saw an Amish teen walking down the road talking on her cell phone.
The main crop is corn and I was surprised to see they are also growing tobacco.  There was a cigar store in Intercourse advertising that their cigars are made with locally grown tobacco.
An Amish family in their buggy on a small rural road.  There are many one lane farm roads so they can move equipment to the fields and not have to worry about traffic.  If you are in Lancaster and want to see how the Amish live you need to get off the main roads and check out life along the small country roads.  The farms and countryside are quite beautiful.
We did a day trip to Chadds Ford, PA  to visit the Brandywine River Museum. The museum has an extensive collection of works by the Wyeth family artists, N.C., Andrew and Jamie as well as the Heritage collection of American art.  The Heritage collection includes several works by Howard Pyle who N.C. trained under. 
These neat outdoor animal sculptures are scattered throughout the grounds.
The museum is located among the trees along the Brandywine River.  There is a neat park and trail along the water that is a popular kayaking spot.  In addition to the museum, there are three tours available of the N.C. Wyeth House and Studio, the Andrew Wyeth Studio and the Kuerner Farm that is shown in many of Andrew's paintings.  We did two of the tours.
There was a special exhibit of 25 Moravian Pottery tiles that show events of the New World.  The tiles were originally commissioned for a home in Langhorne where they were for over 70 years.
The N.C. Wyeth gallery has a collection of several paintings that were the illustrations he painted for books by Robert Louis Stevenson.  This one was for Treasure Island. 
This is a painting from Kidnapped.  The sale of the illustrations made N.C. enough money that he was able to purchase land in Chadds Ford that is still in the family.
We toured the old school house that was the home and studio of Andrew.  He painted many of his most famous works here from 1940 to 2008 just a few months before his death in January 2009.  The house was also used as a studio by Andrew's son Jamie the third generation of Wyeth family artists.
Don't think they wanted to be bothered when working.  They even let the trees and shrubs grow up in front of the house to hide it from view.
This is Jamie's studio in what had been the family living room of the house.  These are several sketches he did when he was painting one of his most famous works, a portrait of John F. Kennedy. 
The Andrew Wyeth studio.  When he bought the old school house he had the huge window installed so he could paint with natural light.
It was so neat to see all the sketches he used to create the final product.  You get the feeling that Andrew could walk into the room at any time and pick up a brush and continue with the painting on the easel.
Look closely and you can see a couple of possible subjects for a future work.  This is an old fashion selfie.
The setting of the Kuerner Farm inspired Andrew's paintings from the beginning when he did some of his earliest works there at the age of fifteen.  It was also the site of the 247 Helga paintings that Andrew painted from 1971 to 1985.  Those paintings were not discussed on the tour as there is much speculation that Andrew and Helga were having an affair at the time.  
The tour showed the places on the farm that inspired the paintings along with the finished works, very neat.  You could also see the artistic license he took, leaving things out to focus the viewers attention on the part of the work he considered the most important.
The home has been restored to the way it was when Andrew was doing so much of his work there.  The rooms have been set up using his paintings to see how they looked.
This picture of the watering trough in the barn was very interesting and shows the realistic style he used.  The Brandywine River Museum is a worthwhile stop in Eastern PA.  Here is a link to the blog post about our 2010 visit to the Farnsworth Art Museum and the site of Andrew's Christina paintings in Maine. 
We added the Lancaster Brewing Company brewpub to our list.  I agree with the sign, the beer was very good with food to match.

This is the last post on our time in the eastern half of Pennsylvania.  We had a great time there and look forward to going back some time.  As I write this we have been back in Western PA for a couple weeks visiting with friends and family and taking care of our annual doctor visits.  Hopefully, all the must do stuff will be done soon and we can kick back and enjoy our time here. 

1 comment:

The Hesters said...

Love this post about our home town region. The Brandywine Museum is a great albeit small museum with many works by the Wyeths. I have always loved NC's book illustrations! Did you stop by Longwood Gardens? Safe travels.